A record of failure at the dining hall

by Editorial Board / Beacon Staff • September 13, 2012

Cafeteria food is not renowned for its gourmet bona fides, but some Boston colleges have it cushier than others. From pork chops au poivre at Northeastern University’s International Village to lobster night at Boston University’s west campus dining hall, many of our local peers savor flavors more complex than the bland mashed potatoes and iceberg lettuce in the Little Building dining hall. 

This may be the result of larger student bodies and a greater collective economy to throw at fancy college dining options. At a small school like Emerson, students recognize that our options are limited due to the size of our campus. And while we’re not expecting Wolfgang Puck to serve up tasty culinary offerings, we at least expect our dining hall to pass mustard on basic sanitary inspections. 

Unless you’re a competitive coin tosser, 50 percent success is not a promising record. According to the student handbook, Aramark—the company contracted by Business Services to operate dining facilities—would have been asked to pursue academic excellence elsewhere if it were an Emerson student. The dining service has passed inspections a mere half of the time that most of us have attended Emerson. 

In academic terms, that’s failing. 

Since November 2010, Aramark has received 31 health inspection violations—including mice droppings, fruit flies, food items stored at wildly incorrect temperatures, and seedy sanitary procedures. 

When asked for comment, Vice President of Public Affairs Andrew Tiedemann remarked that routine violations “keep us on our toes.” 

Emerson has measures to keep its students on their toes - strict attendance policies, academic probation, minimum GPA’s. The idea of these measures is to help a failing student clean up their act and succeed. But no matter how the citations stack against Aramark, they seem to have little interest in turning themselves around. Maybe it’s time they get the boot.

And as Business Services Director Andrew Mahoney, who oversaw these manifold violations and their fleeting resolutions, announces his departure, the college must find a replacement whose efforts prevent these unsanitary conditions for longer than an inspection cycle.